No. 8 Alabama will look to tie its school record for most Southeastern Conference wins in a men’s basketball season when it visits the Georgia Bulldogs to close out the regular season on Saturday in Athens, Ga.
Alabama (20-6, 15-2 SEC) has its second-most league wins in school history and is looking to match the high mark set by the 1986-87 squad that went 16-2. The Crimson Tide have also posted their first 20-win regular season since 2012-13.
Alabama, which clinched its first SEC regular-season title since 2002 with a win over Mississippi State last Saturday, is coming off a 70-58 victory over visiting Auburn. It marked the Crimson Tide’s first season sweep of the rival Tigers since the 2014-15 season.
Against the Tigers, guard Jaden Shackelford scored a team-high 23 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the 3-point line to post his team-leading fourth 20-point game of the season. Guards Jahvon Quinerly and John Petty Jr. each scored 11, while forward Herbert Jones added 10 points and a team-high nine rebounds to go along with six assists and three steals in the victory.
The Crimson Tide committed a season-low seven turnovers while forcing a season-high 23 miscues by Auburn that led to Alabama having a 24-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
Still, Alabama coach Nate Oats said he’d like to see improvement offensively when the Crimson Tide face the Bulldogs, which the Tide rolled 115-82 on Feb. 13 in what remains Alabama’s highest scoring output of the season by at least 10 points.
“Maybe we can get more of our shooters going,” Oats said after Alabama’s fifth win in its past six games. “We needed the offense tonight from Shack. I thought Petty Jr. gave a great effort because he has been playing so hard lately.
“This means so much to our seniors. They have really bought in and we have something special. We are a better defensive team than I have ever coached.”
Shackelford averages a team-high 14.5 points per game to lead four scorers who average in double figures, including Petty (12.8), Quinerly (12.0) and Jones (11.0), who also averages a team-leading 6.1 rebounds per game.
Georgia (14-10, 7-10) has lost four of its past six games, including a 91-70 loss to visiting South Carolina on Feb. 27 in which the Bulldogs shot just 36.7 percent (22-for-60) from the field and 33.3 percent (7-for-21) from the 3-point line. They also committed 19 turnovers against South Carolina, which ended the first half on a 24-12 run and never looked back en route to its 10th straight win over Georgia.
“It starts with me, to be honest with you,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “They wanted to fight and we didn’t, so I did a poor job of having our guys completely, 100-percent understand what this game was going to entail. We never locked into the fight.”
Georgia is led by Sahvir Wheeler, who averages team highs in points (13.8) and assists (7.1), K.D. Johnson (13.4 points, 2.9 rebounds) and Toumani Camara (12.7 points, team-high 7.7 rebounds).
–Field Level Media